Tuesday, January 31, 2017

OOMPH! OOPS! Praise the Process!

Hello Everyone!!
Well, it's been quite a week already and it's only Tuesday.  I want to start off by sending a "shout-out" to some sweet first grade teachers in Conroe, Texas.  The lovely girls at Houser Elementary sent little me a beautiful, joyfilled  flower arrangement!  I have never met this team, but they simply wanted to show appreciation for my work. This was an amazing way to start off the week!!!  I don't know how they did it, but I am so incredibly humbled by this sweet gesture!  Thank you, girls!!!

I also wanted to share what we've been up to so far this week.  As a teacher, I am constantly looking for ways to encourage my kids to do their best.  If you are a teacher, you know that sometimes in January and February, we notice some kids losing their focus and even their confidence.  With all the "Growth Mindset" information out there, please know that there are things you can do differently.  I have made it a mission to change how I praise kids.  Research shows that students who hear, “You are such a hard worker!” or “You are really using your strategies!” rather than, “You are so smart!” or “You’re awesome!” often opt to challenge themselves on future work. We can help kids understand this by consistently and intently responding to their work habits with affirmations of believing in their ability to give it everything they’ve got and learning from their mistakes.  Rather than praising the right answers, I am going to strive to praise the process.  It will pay off!!  
So this week I have taken some time out from the regs, to include some "growth" activities. These 2 books are amazing! 

In these books, Barney Saltzberg shows in a very creative way, that when you work with "OOMPH!" you can make anything beautiful!! And when you make a mistake, make it into something beautiful!
The kids loved learning through these books! 
I have made it my goal to embrace the OOMPHs and the OOPS' in my students!
We created a little foldable book to go along with the OOMPH book!

I also had a basketful of affirmation bracelets to let the kids know that I will be taking notice of HOW they worked, not just the answers they got.

I am very excited to follow this new and improved way of praising my kids, and I know they have already embraced it!!
The little unit I prepared includes some little posters to hang, the foldable idea, and the bracelets printable. Here are a few samples.

I am so looking forward to the rest of this week... empowering kids to put their hearts into everything they do!!
 I hope you are too!
As always, thanks for stopping by our little "Window on Wonder" for a peek!  


Saturday, January 21, 2017

MLK, Living and Non, adverbs, poetry, Oh My!

Hello Everyone!
First of all, I want to thank Feedspot for naming this little blog one of the top 30 Firstgrade Teacher blogs on the internet!!  What??? So honored! I haven't been blogging that long, and simply started as a way of sharing what we are doing in first grade. It has grown into a passion.  I love teaching and I love sharing. To be honored with this award is so cool!!! Thank you!!!
What a crazy busy week we've had!! And a busy weekend coming up! I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like I need more hours in the day!!  Both at school and at home.  The juggling continues. But I feel like as long as I'm making every moment count on both fronts, it's all good!! 
This week we finished up our study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And talk about making every moment count, the lessons learned from the study, will last in the hearts of these little firsties.  I have shared my unit before, and will include a link a bit later, but I wanted to show a few pics of where our hearts took us.

I always include an impact lesson comparing the insides and outsides of apples.  On the outside, the apples all look different. On the inside they each contain a star!  Just like people. We are all different on the outside.  Every. Single. One. Of. Us.  
That should not ever stop us from letting the star on the inside of each of us shine brightly!!! 
As a teacher I try to help each kiddo find his inner star and shine!!! I strive to include many, many activities that nurture the learning styles of each little star!

I extended the apple lesson by having the kids create a star with their handprints.  With little direction, they were able to express themselves with color in a very hands on way. 

As we have worked through the MLK study, one early insight my students had was that they have dreams too.  Some of their dreams were that all kids would have books to read, food to eat, and clean water to drink.  

I love this picture so much! Even though our lives are very different from those during Mlk's time, I believe these kids are going to do everything they can to make their dreams come true!! Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that "If I can't do great things, I can do small things in a great way."  As teachers, we are doing small things...that will hopefully turn into great things!!! Thank you, MLK for your leadership!

In science, we finished up our unit on living and nonliving.  We have had so much fun comparing the two.
After learning about how we know if something is living or nonliving, we created and described pet rocks!

And as a culminating Sci Fri we were able to compare three things that looked similar, but proved to be very different....worms!!

I loooove that after learning about living and nonliving things, most of these sweet kiddos were not afraid to hold an earth worm!!  Again...small things!! :)

Finally, I wanted to share a bit of what we've been working on in writing! POETRY!!!  I love it so much and am so amazed at the fun we've been having with language, word choice, rhythm, etc.!   One of our first poems was a shape poem about winter, written with our senses.  Here's our brainstorming! Thinking about winter through our senses brought some deeper thinking!!

We have done so much more than what I was able to capture in a photo.  And we have just begun!! Most poems we are writing will be added to an anthology, and recreated in a visual. 
We turned our study of adverbs into a shape poem!

I love how these are turning out!!  And you should have seen those stars shining!!! First graders are poets , and they didn't even know it!!

I shared my poetry unit a couple of weeks ago.  Simply search above for poetry. And the snowball adverb study that we made into a poem is in my snowball unit that I just shared!!!

Wow!! This post turned out to be longer that I thought it was going to be!! But I have one more thing to share!!
Our 100th day of school is coming up in 9 days!!!  I reworked a few things on my unit and added a couple of other things!!! Even if you already have it, please download the new and hopefully improved unit!

Ok! that's it for today! Hopefully you got a bit out of this post!! Please know that the comment gadget is not working for some reason, but you can always e-mail me with questions or concerns about anything! We are all in this together!! 
Thanks for stopping by this window on wonder!!
I appreciate you!
or nancyvb1@gmail.com

Monday, January 16, 2017


Hello Everyone!
Hope everyone had a great weekend, and perhaps a long weekend.  We actually had a teacher inservice day today. Kids had off, but we as teachers got a lot done organizationally!  Checked a few things off our growing list of things to do this semester. How often does that happen, right? 
Over the weekend, I had a chance to work on a little fun unit with a snowball theme. It started off as a little study on adverbs which is an objective we are covering this week, but it started growing and growing.  It actually snowballed!! Teehee! Anyway, I'm posting it tonight in case you need a little snowball fun in your week. I know some of you are probably soooooo tired of snow, but our little Texas kids can't get enough! 
 Here are a few pics of the 60 page unit.

This is a small sample of what the unit includes,  I can't wait to enjoy it with my kids starting tomorrow!!  I'll let you know how it goes!!
If you would like to try some of the snowball fun...

I can't wait to show you how the kids are doing on our poetry unit!  We have been so excited to become poets!!! That update is coming soon!!

Have a great week everyone!!! Don't forget to look for the joy in every day!!
Thanks for stopping by our little window!!
Questions? Comments? e-mail- firstgradewow@gmail.com